Marketing communications should be legal, decent, honest and truthful.
Marketing communications should be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society.
Marketing communications should respect the principles of fair competition generally accepted in business.
The Code is applied in the spirit as well as in the letter.
A marketing communication should not bring advertising into disrepute.
Primary responsibility for observing the Code rests with advertisers. Others involved in the preparation and publication of marketing communications, such as agencies, media and other service providers, also accept an obligation to abide by the Code.
A marketing communication may be found to be in breach of the Code if the advertiser/promoter fails to respond, or unreasonably delays responding, to the Authority. Likewise, advertisers/promoters may be found to have contravened the Code if they do not respond, or unreasonably delay their response, to the Authority.
The Authority will observe requests to treat in strict confidence any truly confidential material supplied unless the Courts or an official agency acting within its statutory powers compel its disclosure.
Before offering a marketing communication for publication, advertisers should satisfy themselves that they will be able to provide documentary evidence to substantiate all claims, whether direct or indirect, expressed or implied, that are capable of objective assessment. Relevant evidence should be sent without delay if requested by the Authority and should be adequate to support both detailed claims and the overall impression created by the marketing communication. The full name and geographical business address of advertisers should be provided without delay if requested by the Authority from an agency or relevant third party.
Marketing communications should not present statistics in such a way as to exaggerate the validity of an advertising claim, or give the unjustified impression that there is validity to the claim.
Marketing communications should not:
(a) misuse, mischaracterise or misleadingly cite any technical data, e.g. research results or quotations from technical and scientific publications;
(b) use scientific terminology or vocabulary in such a way as to falsely or misleadingly suggest that an advertising claim has scientific validity.
If there is a significant division of informed opinion about any claim made in a marketing communication, the claim should not be portrayed as universally accepted.
Marketing communications should not exaggerate the value, accuracy or usefulness of claims contained in books, tapes, videos, DVDs and the like that have not been independently substantiated.
Advertisers have primary responsibility for ensuring that their marketing communications are in conformity with the law. A marketing communication should not contain anything that breaks the law or incites anyone to break it, nor omit anything that the law requires. The determination as to whether or not a marketing communication is legal is primarily a matter for the courts or other appropriate regulatory authorities.
Decency and Propriety
A marketing communication should contain nothing that is likely to cause grave or widespread offence.
Marketing communications should respect the dignity of all persons and should avoid causing offence on grounds of gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race or membership of the traveller community.
Marketing communications should respect the principle of the equality of men and women. They should avoid sex stereotyping and any exploitation or demeaning of men and women. Where appropriate, marketing communications should use generic terms that include both the masculine and feminine gender; for example, the term ‘business executive’ covers both men and women.
To avoid causing offence, marketing communications should be responsive to the diversity in Irish society and marketing communications which portray or refer to people within the groups mentioned in 2.16 should:
(a) respect the principle of equality in any depiction of these groups;
(b) fully respect their dignity and not subject them to ridicule or offensive humour;
(c) avoid stereotyping and negative or hurtful images;
(d) not exploit them for unrelated marketing purposes;
(e) not ridicule or exploit religious beliefs, symbols, rites or practices.
Advertisers should take account of public sensitivities in the preparation and publication of marketing communications and avoid the exploitation of sexuality and the use of coarseness and undesirable innuendo. They should not use offensive or provocative copy or images merely to attract attention.Marketing communications that may be considered by some to be distasteful, might not necessarily conflict with 2.15 above. Nevertheless, advertisers are urged to consider public sensitivities before using potentially offensive material.
The fact that a product is offensive to some people is not in itself sufficient basis for objecting to a marketing communication for the product. Advertisers should nevertheless avoid causing offence in such marketing communications.
Compliance with the Code is assessed on the basis of the standards of taste, decency and propriety generally accepted in Ireland, taking account of the characteristics of the likely audience, the media by means of which the marketing communication is communicated, the location and context of the marketing communication, the nature of the advertised product and the nature, content and form of any associated material made available or action recommended to consumers.
Advertisers should not exploit the credulity, inexperience or lack of knowledge of consumers.
The design and presentation of marketing communications should allow them to be easily and clearly understood.Where footnotes or “small print” sections are used, they should be of sufficient size and prominence and easily legible; where appropriate they should be linked to the relevant part of the main copy.
A marketing communication should not mislead, or be likely to mislead, by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise.
Obvious untruths or deliberate hyperbole that are unlikely to mislead, incidental minor inaccuracies and unorthodox spellings are not necessarily in conflict with the Code provided they do not affect the accuracy or perception of the marketing communication in any material way.
Claims such as “Up to” and “From” should not exaggerate the value or the range of benefits likely to be achieved in practice by consumers.
Matters of Opinion
Advertisers may state an opinion about the quality or desirability of a product provided that it is clear that what they are expressing is their own opinion rather than a matter of fact and there is no likelihood of consumers being misled about any matter that is capable of objective assessment. Assertions or comparisons that go beyond subjective opinions should be capable of substantiation.
Fear and Distress
A marketing communication should not cause fear or distress without good reason such as the encouragement of prudent behaviour or the discouragement of dangerous or ill-advised actions. In such cases the fear aroused should not be disproportionate to the risk.
A marketing communication should not encourage or condone dangerous behaviour or unsafe practices except in the context of promoting safety.
Violence and Anti-Social Behaviour
A marketing communication should contain nothing that condones or is likely to provoke violence or antisocial behaviour, nuisance, personal injury or damage to property.
Portrayal of Persons or Property
Advertisers are reminded that persons who do not wish to be associated with the marketing communication may take legal action against them.
Subject to the exceptions referred to in 2.33 below, advertisers should have written permission in advance from living persons portrayed or referred to in a marketing communication. Permission is also required before any person’s house or other possessions can be featured in a manner which identifies the owner to the public.
(a) the use of crowd scenes or property depicted in general outdoor locations, or where the purpose of the marketing communication is to promote a product such as a book, newspaper article, broadcast programme or film of which the person concerned is a subject;
(b) in the case of people with a public profile, references that accurately reflect the contents of books, newspaper articles, broadcast programmes, films or other electronic communications etc. may be acceptable without permission.
Marketing communications should not exploit the public reputation of persons in a manner which is humiliating or offensive.Marketing communications should not claim or imply an endorsement where none exists.
References to deceased persons should be handled with particular care to avoid causing offence or distress.
Testimonials and Endorsements
Advertisers who use testimonials should be able to provide relevant supporting documentation and they should hold signed and dated proof for any testimonials they use; such information should be provided to the Authority immediately on request. Testimonials by persons named or depicted in a marketing communication may be used only with the prior permission of those persons and only where such permission still holds.
Testimonials may be misleading if the formulation of the product or its market environment changes significantly. They should therefore relate to the product as currently offered.
Testimonials do not constitute substantiation and the opinions expressed in them should be supported, where necessary, with independent evidence of their accuracy. Claims based on a testimonial should conform to the Code.
Endorsements by fictitious or historical characters should not be presented as though they were genuine testimonials.
References to research tests, trials, professional endorsements, research facilities and professional journals should be used only with the permission of those concerned and they should be relevant and current. All such tests, trials and endorsements should be signed and dated. Any establishment referred to should be under appropriate professional supervision.
If a price is stated in a marketing communication, it should relate to the product depicted or specified in the marketing communication. Care should be taken to ensure that prices and illustrated products match.
Except in marketing communications addressed primarily to the trade, prices quoted should normally include VAT and other taxes, duties or inescapable costs to the consumer.Where applicable, the amounts of any other charges, such as those arising from the method of purchase or payment, should be stated. (Where marketing communications are addressed to the trade and quote a VAT-exclusive price, it should be clear that the price is VAT-exclusive).
If the price of one product is dependent on the purchase of another, the extent of any commitment required of consumers should be made clear.
If the cost of accessing a message or service, or communicating with the advertisers, is greater than the standard rate, this should be made clear in any marketing communications.
Availability of Products
Advertisers should be in a position to meet any reasonable demand created by their advertising. If a product proves to be available in insufficient quantity, advertisers should take immediate action to ensure that any further marketing communications are amended or withdrawn.
Where there is limited availability of some or all of the products advertised, apart from indicating that there may be other terms and conditions which apply, advertisers;
(a) should not exaggerate the availability of any of those products; and
(b) should be able to demonstrate that there is a reasonable supply or proportion of each of the various products available.
Products should not be advertised as a way of gauging possible demand unless the marketing communication makes this clear.
Advertisers should not use the technique of switch selling, where sales staff criticise the advertised product or suggest that it is not available and recommend purchase of a more expensive alternative. Advertisers should not place obstacles in the way of purchasing the product or delivering it promptly.
Comparisons are permitted in the interests of public information and vigorous competition. They can be explicit or implied and can relate to advertisers’ own products or those of their competitors.
Comparisons should be fair and should be so designed that there is no likelihood of a consumer being misled. In any marketing communication that uses comparisons, the basis of selection should be clear and the elements of comparison should not be unfairly selected in a way that gives the advertisers an artificial advantage.
A claim that any product is superior to others should only be made where there is clear evidence to support the claim. Wording which
implies superior or superlative status such as “number one”, “leading”, “largest” and the like should be capable of substantiation with market share data or similar proof.
Advertisers should not unfairly attack or discredit other businesses or their products.
Where a marketing communication refers to a guarantee, the full terms of the guarantee should be available for consumers to inspect before they are committed to purchase. Any substantial limitations (e.g. one year; parts only) should be clearly indicated in the marketing communication.
Exploitation of Goodwill
Advertisers should not exploit or make unfair use of the goodwill attached to the name, trademark, brand, slogan or marketing communications campaign of any other person.
A marketing communication should not
so closely resemble another as to be likely to mislead or cause confusion.
A marketing communication should be designed and presented in such a way that it is clear that it is a marketing communication.
An advertisement feature, announcement or promotion published or electronically broadcast in exchange for a payment or other reciprocal arrangement where the content is controlled by the advertiser should comply with the Code. It should also be clearly identified and distinguished from editorial matter.
The identity of the advertiser, product or service should be apparent. This does not apply to marketing communications with the
sole purpose of attracting attention to communication activities to follow (so-called “teaser advertisements”).
Marketing communications should, where appropriate, include contact information to enable the consumer to get in touch with the advertiser without difficulty.
Marketing communications should not misrepresent their true purpose.Marketing communications should not be presented as, for example,
market research or consumer surveys if their purpose is marketing, i.e. the promotion of a product.
Marketing communications which solicit a response constituting an order for which payment will be required (e.g. an entry in a publication) should make this clear.
Marketing communications soliciting orders should not be presented in a form which might be mistaken for an invoice, or otherwise falsely suggest that payment is due.